A large genus of naturally small-flowered plants. Through breeding the size of the flowers and their scent has been increased to produce modern carnations, as well as the medium-sized border pinks.
Carnations are occasionally grown in the border (border carnations), but they are more often grown either in a separate plot or in the greenhouse (perpetual flowering carnations and Malmaison carnations). In both cases they are grown for cutting and exhibition. Pinks are grown at the front of borders where they are ideal, being low and clump-forming with a bright coloured flowers.
The old fashioned varieties tend to flower only once, but the modern forms have a long season often lasting through the summer and into autumn.
There are many species in cultivation, but these are mainly grown by alpine gardeners on rock gardens, raised beds and in pots, as they are too small to stand the hurly-burly of the open border.
Pinks do best in an alkaline soil that is reasonably well-drained; they will also grow in neutral soils but will not live so long, especially if the winter soil lies wet. It is always a wise precaution to take cuttings of pinks every year just in case of loss. They generally root very easily.